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kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe

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dulcimer42 26 Apr 08 - 04:52 PM
katlaughing 26 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM
Azizi 26 Apr 08 - 07:40 PM
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the lemonade lady 27 Apr 08 - 03:55 AM
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Subject: BS: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: dulcimer42
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 04:52 PM

We played a game in our neighborhood which began with a rhyme: I'm going' down town to smoke my pipe. I won't be back till broad daylight. If you let one of my children go, I'll spank you with my rubber shoe".    Just happened to recall it.... it was in Michigan, probably around 1950.    Anyone recall anything like this? I don't recall the details of it.   We neighborhood kids played it out in the yard..........


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Subject: RE: BS: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM

These folks knew about it in Michigan in the '30s and would like to figure it out, too.

Looks as though it might have something to do with the Witch in the Well game.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 07:40 PM

Fwiw, I've not heard or read of this children's rhyme before. However, I think that it might be a variant form of the "Chickama Chickama Craney Crow" children's rhyme. A version of that rhyme is found in Thomas Talley's 1922 collection Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise And Otherwise {Kennnikat Press Edition, 1968; p. 74}. Here's that example:

Hawk And Chickens Play
(Chicken's Call)
Chickamee chickamee, cranie-crow
I went to de well to wash my toe.
W'en I came back, my chicken wus gone.
W'at time, ole Witch?
(Hawk Sponse)
"One"
(Hawk Call)
"I wants a chick"
(Chicken's Sponse
"Well, you cain't git mine".
(Hawk Call)
"I shall have a chick!"
(Chicken's Sponse)
You shan't have a chick!"
-snip-

In 1999, I created a modified version of this game which is found http://cocojams.com/games_children_play.htm In that version, children designated as "chickens" say the first verse, and the asks the child designated as the "witch" "What time is it?" The witch says an arbitrary number such as "5 o'clock". The chickens then repeat the question "What time is it? When the witch says "12 o'clock" the chickens run, trying to get to home base before the witch tags them. The last person who is tagged is the new "witch".

Of course, this game may have nothing at all to do with "I'm goin' down to smoke my pipe."


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Subject: RE: BS: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 07:57 PM

Here's another game rhyme that is found in Talley's collection thath may be a source of "I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe", {particularly the version of that game that katlaughing found.

Note: I'm using asterisks instead of spelling out the "n word"

In A Mulberry Tree
Jes looky, looky yonder; w'at I see!
Two liddle N**gers in a Mulberry tree,
One cain't read, an' de t'other cain't write.
But dey bofe can smoke deir daddy's pipe.

"One ma two! One ma two!"
Dat Mulberry Witch, he *titterer too!
"Big bait'o Mulberries make 'em bofe sick.
Dem liddle N**gers gwinter roll an' kick.
-snip-

* titterer=laugh
Thomas Talley; Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise And Otherwise {Kennnikat Press Edition, 1968; p. 158, originally published, 1922, The Macmillan Company}.

**
It's possible that these this rhyme was combined with "Chickama Chickama Craney Crow" {also known as "Hawk And Chickens"} to create the "Goin' Downtown To Smoke My Pipe" game. But it's also possible that although these three examples have some text {and possible performance activities} in common, they aren't part of the same family of rhymes.


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Subject: RE: BS: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 08:06 PM

I meant to add that I recall that saying "Can you read/can you write/can you smoke your daddy's pipe" lines when I was growing up in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s. I don't associate those lines with any other rhyme or with any performance activity. They were just something rhyming and kinda smart alecky to say.


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 03:55 AM

He's not got nowhere to go to smoke 'is pype 'ere in the UK!

Stay at 'ome mate.

Sal


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Azizi
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 08:24 PM

LOL!

Better yet, since the the health concerns are as the health concerns are and law is as the law is, maybe daddy [and mommy and everybody else] should give up smoking all together.


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Azizi
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 08:38 PM

And smoking daddy's pipe should certainly be a no no for children.


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Apr 08 - 11:30 PM

But I loved the smell of my daddy's pipe and I LOVED when he let me mix his tobaccos for him! Even though he quit in later years, the smell is an instant reminder of him and my childhood.


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 09:29 AM

I thought of this thread when this rhyme was posted in another Mudcat thread:

thread.cfm?threadid=115451&messages=3
Old Mother Sow


"Old mother sow stood at the gate
and said "Now piggys pappas later
Until he comes you run and play
but mind now don't go far away."


It's possible that there's no relationship between that rhyme and the "old mother witch"/"goin' downtown to smoke my pipe" games. But they might at least be kissin cousins.

In her 26 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM to this thread, katlaughing shared a link to a good description of a version of the "Witch In The Well" game. As a means of helping to preserve this game, I think that Mudcat should have an excerpt of that description. So here's an excerpt from that webpage:

Witch In The Well
By Thom Holbrook

   "Some kids might like their games of tag or hide and seek. Me, I liked the funkier games like Witch In The Well. It's sort of a variation on tag if you get right down to it but the tag part is almost beside the point. It's really more of an acting thing. More play than play.

   The game is literally a mini-play for four or more kids with everyone playing a part. One kid plays the parent, two play the kids and the last kid plays the witch in the well. With more than four kids I guess you could pad it out with an extra parent and some extra kids. Seems to me we almost always ended up with four kids when we played.

   The "witch" takes her position in the "well", wherever that is chosen to be. In our case it was always the phone pole in front of our house down near the road (we lived on a dead end street so no worries about traffic). Then "Dad" and his "kids" took their position in their "house". Again, in our case, that meant the front porch of our real house. The rest of the game went word for word the same way every time. Dad would turn to the kids and say...

Dad: I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and I won't be back till Saturday night. And don't get into the brown sugar and butter.


   Why this? I dunno. That's the line. Seems dad was kind of a bad parent, apparently abandoning his kids for maybe several days to go smoking in town. The kids are goofy too because they apparently just jones for brown sugar and butter. The minute dad leaves, that's what they're after.

   Dad leaves to go to town. The kid playing dad acts this by going for a walk around the house. Once he's gone it's the kid's job to start miming that they are just eating like crazy. Now the idea is you don't know when dad is coming back so you need to just pig out. It's all play but there really was this sort of excitement as to when dad would get back and catch you.

   He always caught you. That's a set part of the game. The kid walking around the house – Dad - would sometimes go slow, sometimes run like the wind. He/she would try to mess with the time of the walk to maximize the surprise of Dad's return. Likewise, that kid would want to make a good entrance. Maybe hide around the corner for a minute in case someone looked around if he was coming. Then when the kid looked away he run in fast to maximize the surprise.

Dad would run in saying something like, "Ah haaaa!!!" The kids immediately hide their hands to conceal the evidence of their butter/sugar madness. Dad strides powerfully up to the kids.

Dad: Let me see your hands.

Kids: No.

Dad: LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS!!!


The kids show him their hands. Dad lightly smacks their hands.

Dad: Dirty, dirty! (one "dirty" with each hand smack) Go wash them in the well.


   Now, the witch finally gets some action. The kids walk down to the "well". Just as they get to the well, the witch jumps out (from behind the phone pole), yells, "Arrrrr!!!" and chases the kids back "home". Actually the witch only fakes chasing them. Once they turn tail the witch goes back into the well. The kids run "home" yelling in fear.

Kids: Daddy daddy! There's a witch in the well!!!


   Here dad could kind of make up his lines. He basically has to get across that what the kids are saying is crazy. The kids can argue back a little too. Then dad orders them again to go wash their hands. Example:

Dad: What are you nutty? There's no witch in the well!

Kids: Yes there is there really is!

Dad: You're drunk! There's no witch in the well.

Kids: We're not drunk! We're hopped up on sugar and loaded up with raw butter but, really, there is a witch in the well.

Dad: I don't believe you, now go wash your hands!

So the kids go back to the well. The same thing happens with the witch chasing them home. Once again the kids tell dad there is a witch in the well. This time dad is a bit more reasonable and agrees to go with them to the well. The kids always yell the same thing but Dad can vamp a bit.

Kids: Daddy, daddy, there's a witch in the well!!!

Dad: Alright, I've had enough of this. Let's go down to well and see what's going on.


   They all head down to the well, the kids cowering a bit behind dad. Now when they go down the witch isn't hiding but instead just sort of hanging out. Back to the hand and fast dialogue.

Dad: What are you doing in my well?

Witch: Smoking my pipe.

Dad: Why are you smoking your pipe?

Witch: To make ashes?

Dad: Why are you making ashes?

Witch: To sharpen my knife.

Dad: Why are you sharpening your knife?

Witch: TO CUT OFF YOUR HEADS!!!


At that point the witch rushes at everyone and the game becomes a quick game of tag (but with a heck of a freaky backstory) with the first victim being the person who next has to play the witch"...
http://www.poobala.com/yardgames/witchinthewell.html


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: Melissa
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 02:35 PM

Witch in the Well was posted downstairs several months ago..(thank you, whoever posted it then!) my troop loved it.


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: GUEST,FransDotir
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 10:01 PM

We also played this game in Detroit in the 1940s, but before the internet I could never find anyone outside my old neighborhood who had heard of it. About 12 or 13 years ago I joined a storytelling listserve and we had a discussion about the game. A query produced versions from all over the country. Someone mentioned that a part of the game resembled the children's book, Heckedy Peg by Audrey and Don Wood. Someone else suggested Games and Songs of American Children by William Wells Newell, an anthropological account of children's games first published in 1893 and reprinted by Dover Press. Newell lists the game as a version of "The Old Witch" and traces it back to 17th century Europe. Heckedy Peg is a beautifully illustrated story based on one version of the game - well worth looking at.
I now tell kids about the game we played growing up and then tell them the story of Heckedy Peg. They love it!


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Subject: RE: 'I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe,
From: GUEST,FransDotir
Date: 25 Nov 08 - 10:09 PM

Saturday, April 6, 1996 5:50 pm (To the Storytell Listserve)

How delightful to find someone else who grew up playing my favorite game.
For you and anyone else who's interested, here's the rest of
what I remember about it.

It took at least 5 or 6 kids to play and mostly it was a game that girls
liked, though occasionally we could get a younger boy to participate if
there wasn't anybody to play catch with.
We usually played it at our house, a late 1930s brick bungalow
with a low cement front porch. We lived on the corner, which gave us plenty
of sidewalk. One of the older kids - nine or ten - would be the mother and
another would be the witch. Those two roles had a lot of ritualized speaking
parts which the little kids couldn't always remember. Before the game began
the witch would choose a category of food, such as "pies" and then she'd go
up on the porch and wait for the counting out ritual to proceed.

The rest of the children would sit on the step at the end of the walk and the
mother would count them out, chanting the refrain we've mentioned before:

I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe
And I won't be back 'til Saturday night.
I'll whip you black and I'll whip you blue,
Especially you, my daughter Sue.

As soon as she had pointed to "Sue", the mother would casually saunter around
the corner walk making a big show of smoking an imaginary pipe, while the
witch would come down and take "Sue" up on the porch, meanwhile whispering to
her the name of a particular pie (blueberry, apple, lemon, etc.) which "Sue"
was supposed to remember for the second part of the game.

When the mother returned from her stroll around the corner, she would ask,
"Where's daughter Sue?" The other children would reply in unison that the
witch had come to get her. Then the mother would repeat the rhyme and count
out another "daughter Sue". This part of the game continued until all the
children were up on the porch.

When the mother returned to find all the children gone, she'd make a great
fuss, lamenting loudly for her lost children. Eventually, she would go up to
the porch and pretend to knock on the witch's front door. Another ritual
dialogue would ensue:

Mother: Have you seen my children?
Witch: Yes, they were here, and I gave them a piece of bread and butter and
sent them down to Slippery street.

The mother would thank the witch, then walk out to the front sidewalk and
pretend she was on Slippery street, slipping and and sliding all over the
sidewalk. This part of the game would be repeated several times with the
mother returning to the witch to report, "I went down to Slippery street but
they weren't there." The witch replied, "They came back and I gave them
another slide of bread and butter and sent them down to Noisy street."

When the mother had looked for her children on Noisy street, Prickly street
and any other street the witch could think of to have her act out the name
of, the game would move into a new phase, another and rather bizarre dialogue
between the mother and witch.

Mother: May I come in?
Witch: No, your shoes are dirty.
Mother: I'll take off my shoes.
Witch: Your feet 'll stink. (to great hiliarity of the group)
Mother: I'll cut off my feet.
Witch: No, you'll get blood all over my beautiful carpet.
Mother: I'll put on golden slippers.
Witch: (giving in reluctantly) All right, you can come in.

Meanwhile, the children stood in a row on the porch with their hands
stretched out, palms up. The mother would pretend to look around the room
curiously and eventually let her eyes fall on the children. "Oh, what a
beautiful piano!" she would say , then go over and pretend to be playing the
moutstretched hands of the children. When she touched their hands, the
children would respond, "Mama, Mama!" The mother would turn to the witchd
and say, "That sounds like the voices of my children?"
However, the witch would deny it and the mother would not press the issue.
Eventually, ( and I may have forgotten some detail here), the mother would
invite herself to dinner, overcoming any of the witch's objections.

That's when the game would move out onto the sidewalk again and turn into
what Bronner calls "Pies." The mother would stand behind a designated line
with the children and begin to guess the names of pies or whatever category
of food the witch was seving for dinner. When she called out a particular
pie, say "Lemon," whichever child had been given that name would race the
mother to the big elm tree next to the street. This part of the game went on
until each child had raced the mother to the tree and the game was over - a
sort of anti-climax.

We kept ourselves busy for 45 minutes to an hour with this game and I found
it very satisfying with its elements of storytelling, slapstick and role
playing.   Other games we played were Hide and Seek (of course), Tag, Giant
Steps or Mother, May I? and a game called Whale, which involved jumping off
the porch. I thought that one was dumb, but my sister, two years younger,
liked it.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 01:56 PM

When i was a kid, we didn't go downtown to smoke a pipe.

I went downtown
to meet Miss Brown.
She gave me a nickel;
I bought a pickle.


After that, things go downhill steadily in a grim but clear-eyed assessment of the human condition.

The pickle was sour.
I bought a flower.
The flower was dead.
I bought some bread.

Unfortunately, I can't remember what happened after that.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Kelly
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 04:26 PM

Yup, I do remember..From Jackson Michigan and it went along these lins..

I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe, and I won't be back till broad daylight, and if I find one of my children gone...I'll spank you black, you blue, and you will be my sister Sue??

Kind of like duck, duck, goose, but with a twist...

Always thought it sounded kind of violent....but was fun, none the less...


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 05:11 PM

Thanks, Guest Kelly for sharing that memory, and also for mentioning where you played that rhyme.

:o)


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,blaine
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 01:15 PM

I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe,
I won't be back til broad daylight,
if you let the witch get little sister Sue,
I'll spank you black, I'll spank you blue,
I'll spank you with the heel of my old rubber shoe


This is the version we used to jump rope to. Back in the 50's, Saginaw, MI


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,GUEST, Lorene
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 06:27 PM

FransDotir,
Thank you so much for sending your version...it's exactly how we played it at Holcomb Elementary in Detroit, MI. I've been telling my husband about this game for years....


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,itjustmehere
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 11:06 PM

I just went with a walk with my 14 year old and was telling her about the games we played as kids. When my Mom and Dad went square dancing we played a game that startede with "I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and won't be back til Saturday night", when the person playing the parent left the room, we would jump on the bed, turn on the t.v. and anything else you weren't allowed to do when the parent was home and try not to get caught. I think the person that go caught had to play the parent next.

We also played a game called colored eggs. Going to google that game next, lol.

Oh the fun memories of childhood days.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,suerisa
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 11:29 PM

At a family visit last weekend we got to talking about a game we played in the 50's in Brevard, NC. I've often asked people if they played it when they were kids, but never have gotten a yes from anyone. I finally put the question to Google, and got the mudcat site.

We called the game "Black Spider".

We don't know where it came from. I remember that my brother taught it to us, but he has no memory of doing so, or of where or from whom he may have gotten it if he did.

The game went like this:

One person was the Black Spider. One was the Mother. All the rest were kids.

In our case, The Black Spider lived on the side porch. The Mother and kids lived in the house and used the front door.

The Mother would say to the kids:

I'm going out to smoke my pipe,
I won't be back till Saturday night,
And I'm leaving YOU in charge (picking one kid to be in charge).

Then she'd go sit under a maple tree in the front yard and pretend to smoke a pipe.

The Black Spider would come around from the side porch to the front porch and knock on the door. The kid in charge would answer the door. The Black Spider would ask to borrow some ketchup, or sugar, or mustard, or milk, or eggs -- something different every time. When the one in charge went to get it, the Black Spider would grab a kid and make off with him or her to his house -- the side porch -- where he would assign him or her a flavor of ice cream.

He'd keep coming back to borrow stuff till he had nabbed every kid but the one in charge. Then he'd dispense with the ruse, grab that kid and just haul him or her back to his lair.

The Mother would come home and find them all gone. She'd wail and cry and get all frantic and go hunting for them.

That took her right away to the Spider's door where she'd ask if he'd seen her children. He'd say he thought he saw them go down the straight road, and she'd walk a straight line down the yard and back. "No, they weren't down the straight road." He'd say, "Well, I think I saw them go down the crooked road." And she'd go winding this way and that down the yard and back. "No, they weren't down the crooked road."

"Well, would you like some ice cream?", the Black Spider would ask. "Sure", she'd say, and he'd ask what kind, and she'd name a flavor. If there was a kid of that flavor, the Black Spider would bring the kid out and set him or her loose near the mother and the race would be on.

If the kid could make it to the front porch without the Mother catching him or her, he or she would be spared a walloping.

It was a pretend walloping, pretty much, consisting of holding the kid and giving several smacks on the fanny with an open hand -- all governed by a natural balance between keeping it fun and giving the kid a good motive to run.

Repeat till all kids are home. Change roles and play again, or go play something else.

Did anyone else play it with the heavy being a spider instead of a witch?

Are there any others from the South who have played it?

So good to find reference to the game. Thanks for the posts. I'll keep an eye out for further stories and connections.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 09 - 10:05 AM

I googled I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and found this site. In northern Indiana (Osceola) all the neighbor kids played this in the yard.
Two older kids would be witch and mother, and the rest were the children.
The witch would stand apart or go in the garage while the first scene took place.
The mother would say "I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and I won't be back until Saturday night. If you let that old witch in, I'll spank you black and blue with my old rubber shoe."
Then she would look around at the children and point to one, saying "And YOU'RE IN CHARGE".
I don't remember that person being called "Sue".   That child would act scared knowing she/he was going to get spanked (fairly gently) with the "old rubber shoe".
The rest of the game is fairly blurred in my mind now, but involved the witch coming and stealing 1 child at a time and hiding them in her house (our neighbor's garage). Each of the children was given a pie name (ie apple, peach) secretly by the IN CHARGE sibling right before the witch took the child. Later the pie name was involved in the mother getting the child back.
I wondered for years where this game came from, and found a book of children's games of England at the Pratt Library in Baltimore Md. which described "Old Witch." with many of the motifs our our Indiana game.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 09 - 11:18 AM

Yes, we played that game, too...
I'm goin up town to smoke my pipe and I won't be back till Saturday night....and don't let the old witch in...

aaawwww fond memories!


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Flora
Date: 04 May 09 - 07:23 PM

I grew up in Pontiac, Michigan in the 1950's and played the witch game identically to FransDotir's version. I had forgotten many of the details and it was a delight to read her description. Other games we played were mumbly peg and splits with the jack knives we all carried in our pockets. It was a different world.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: Azizi
Date: 04 May 09 - 07:54 PM

Thanks to all who have posted to this thread. Apparently "I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe" game was rather well known at one time in the state of Michigan.

To recap, for the posts which provide demographical information in this thread, so far, there are two different posts recalling this game from Detroit, Michigan (one from the 1940s, and the other no date given, but the game was played when the poster was a child). There is also one poster who remembers this game from Jackson Michigan, another who remembers it from "back in the [19]50's, Saginaw, MI" and another poster who remembers this game from Pontiac, Michigan in the 1950's

There also is a poster who remembers playing "I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe" from the [19]50's in Brevard, NC. That particular game included the going downtown to smoke my pipe line but was called "The Black Spider". Another poster remembers this game from his or her childhood in northern Indiana (Osceola) [no date given]

Did I forget any posts with demographics?

Keep 'em coming.

It would be interesting to know if children in Michigan or children in any other state (or any other country) play this game now.

**
Btw, Guest Flora, my father was raised in Pontiac Michigan. Unfortunately, I only visited there once.

And to all Mudcat guests- please consider joining this forum. Membership is free. Click on the membership feature near the top right hand corner of this page, and follow those easy to do instructions.   But whether you posts as a guests or as a member, we appreciate the information sharing.

o)


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: GUEST,Emily
Date: 06 May 09 - 09:19 AM

I played this game, we called it Witchypoo, in Washington, MI in the 1970's. I learned it from Guest.Flora (Hi Mom!).

The beginning of our game went:

I am going downtown to smoke my pipe.
I won't be back til broad daylight.
Whatever you do - DON'T GO UPSTAIRS!
or I'll spank you black, I'll spank you blue.
especially you my daughter Sue.

When the mother came back the dialog was:

Mom: Where's sister Sue?
Kids: She went upstairs.
Mom: How'd she get there?
Kids: Climbed on a chair.
Mom: What if she falls?
Kids: We don't care.

The rest of the game proceed as in FransDotir's version.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: Azizi
Date: 06 May 09 - 10:28 AM

Hello, Guest Emily and her mother Guest Flora! Thanks for adding your version to this collection, Emily.

I'm particularly interested in the second part of the exchange between the Mom and the kids. That exchange is very much like a rhyme that I heard three African American children do in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I live. And that rhyme was very much like one that I found in a book of Caribbean children's rhymes.

I'll share the rhyme those two rhymes in my next post to this thread.

Thanks again Emily and Flora for adding another twist to the collection of these rhymes! Also thanks Emily for including demographics for "Witchypoo" (I love that name!).

Btw, I wonder why there have been so many examples of this game from the state of Michigan.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: Azizi
Date: 06 May 09 - 10:42 AM

CHILDREN CHILDREN

Children, Children.

Yes, Teacher.

Where have you been?

To Grandmom's *

What did she give you?

Bread and cheese.

Where's my share?

Up in the air.

How can I reach it?

Stand on the chair.

Suppose I fall?

We don't care.

Ha, Ha, Ha.

Class is dismissed.

London Bridge is falling down,    {This part is sung to that familiar tune}
Falling down falling down,
London Bridge is falling down.

Back to Detention. (this part returns to the spoken voice)
-Jackie (Black female, 13 years old); Daynail (Black female, 10 years old) , Marlon, (Black male, 8 years old ); 1998, collected by Azizi Powell, 1998, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

*The word "house" was understood in the phrase "to Grandmom's"
By the way the children recited this, you could tell that the children in the "story" were being smart alecky toward the teacher.

-snip-

WE DON'T CARE

Children, children
Yes, Mama.                 

Where yo' been to?
Granmama.

What she give yo'?
Two apples.

Where yo' put them?
On the shelf.

How will yo' get them?
Stand on a chair.
-Grace Hallworth; Down By The River: Afro-Caribbean rhymes, games, and songs for children (Scholastic, 1996)

-snip-

Different fonts were given in the book for the lines as shown above. This indicates to me that these lines were recited in a call and response manner. Hallworth writes "As the "children" answer "Mama" they creep closer and closer to her until finally "Mama" turns and chases them."

**
As background for how I heard "Children Children" -I was driving Jackie, Daynall, and Marlon home from a game song session that I facilitated in a near by town. During that 30 minute or so drive, I asked them what other rhymes did they know. Jackie started reciting "Teacher Teacher" first and then her other siblings joined in. This was a unison rhyme and not call and response though there are clearly parts for a teacher and parts for the children/students .

I asked the children how they learned this rhyme. Jackie said she learned it from a teacher, Ms. "C", who recited it during a bus ride to a school field trip. Jackie then taught it to her sister and brother.

Ms "C" is a Black female teacher in her mid to late 30s who taught at the same elementary school where my daughter teaches. I had met "Ms C " several times before and my daughter gave her the message that I was interested in collecting children's rhymes and hoped that she would recite that rhyme for me. Ms C agreed to do so after class one day. Her recitation of that rhyme was a little faster than the one that the siblings chanted, but the words were the same. Also she didn't sing the "London Bridge part". It could be that the reason why her version was faster and her speaking and not singing that part was because she had work to do after class or she might have been embarrassed to recite this rhyme for me. I asked Ms "C" where she had learned it, and she said she learned it when she was a child. In response to my question, Ms. C said she didn't remember anyone ever doing any movements to this rhyme. Jackie, Daynail, and Marlon also indicated that there were no movements done while reciting this rhyme.

In my opinion, "Children Children" is an example of a rhyme that has become separated from its movement activity.   The text and performance activity (chasing) of "We Don't Care" is very much like a portion of the Witchypoo game that Emily shared with us from Washington, MI in the 1970's.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: Azizi
Date: 06 May 09 - 10:46 AM

Sorry. I mistyped (if there's such a word).

That Pittsburgh, PA rhyme is called "Children Children" and not "Teacher Teacher".


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 02:50 AM

I used to play that game. We called it Old Black Spider. There was one kid as the spider and one as the mother & the rest were children. The mother would go down town & the spider kidnapped one of the kids. This continues until the spider has all of the kids. The spider gives each kid a secret color & when the mother guesses the correct color she gets her child back.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 05:24 PM

I was in Kalamazoo MI in the 60's and 70's We all knew the saying as I am going downtown to smoke my pipe i wont be back til Saturday night. but from the loks of these posts It must have been very popular in MI. I think It originated for us in Kalamazoo because my mom was transplany to Kalamazoo from the detroit area in the 40's.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: Mo the caller
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 06:41 AM

The: version of this game that Azizi posted on 26 Apr 08 - 07:40 PM is similar to one we used to play in london (England) in the early 50s.
Whats the time Mr Wolf?
The players follow the wolf around asking the time, and the wolf would give arbitrary replies until she shouted DINNER TIME and chased everyone. if one was caught before touching 'home' they were the next wolf.
We played this at Junior school ( up to age 11) and the first year or two at secondary school.
It was simpler than the 'Smoke my pipe game', but had the same elements of chanting question and answer, a mini-drama, then a chase.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Nancy
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 06:45 PM

I remember playing this game in the 50s as a kid. It started out "I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and I won't be back till broad day light - and I'll whip you black and I'll whip you blue especially you my daughter Sue." One of the kids had to be Sue who hid in a pretend upstairs. Then the witch came and the kids pretended to be a piano and held out their hands and said something like "good daddy" another "bad daddy" etc. at some point they were asked "Where's Sue?" They would all say "upstairs" The witch would ask how did she get there and some of the would say "by tables and chairs." They had been pretending to be table and chairs. I can't remember much more - Sue, I think had to run at this point.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:21 AM

If caught, did she get spanked? If not, why not? & did anyone ever actually smoke a pipe, even in mime? And how non-PC such actions would appear in these more 'enlightened' days — are these games still played, or have they been PC'd out of existence?


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: Uly
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM

The "Pies" game has been written down as a picture book, Heckedy Peg. My nieces refuse to read it, I don't know why... I guess the feet-cutting-off is too much.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,dsieradzki
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 06:22 PM

Wow, you can find anything on-line. I played this game in the 1950's in Southwood, a community outside Syracuse, NY. It was very stylized, I remember the words exactly, "I'm going to town to smoke my pipe, I won't be back til Saturday night, take care of the kids" (to the eldest child)it was a wolf who asked for a kind of pie, either the mother or oldest child gave each child a type of pie to be. Then the wolf chased the pie-child, if caught was eliminated, or home free. And I thought this was a local game thought up by the older kids. How about kick the can, mainly a boys game, or duck-duck-goose, for the very young. There were no TV shows to sit in front of all day.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 11:23 PM

I was in Durand Michigan and the way we learned it was:
I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and wont be back til broad daylight...if you let the old witch catch Sister Sue..I'll spank you black and you blue! Oddly enough we did have a Sister Sue and myself and my brother Jim were the ones who was supposed to guard her.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Joanne
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 08:54 PM

In the early 1940's I lived in a very small town in Minnesota' We played this game Don't Let The Old Witch Get You. For over 60 years I have been asking people in my age group if they ever heard of the game. No one ever had. I am so happy that I looked it up on the internet and discovered many people played this game as children. Our version was a little different.
The mother started out with her little verse. I'm going uptown to smoke my pipe and won't be back till Saturday night and don't let the old witch get you. While she is gone the old witch comes and says to the first child, go down to the cellar and get me a jar of peas. While the child is getting the peas, she kidnaps one of the remaining children. When the mother comes back she asks the children where is so and so. The children say the old witch took her. This goes on until all the children are gone.

I could never remember the verse the mother said when she went to the witches house to get her children.

Now the mystery is solved. The verse I tried so hard to remember is the one sent in by Frans dotir. I had vaguely remembered something about glass slippers and bloody feed. Thank you Frans for clearing this up for me after more than 60 years.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Joanne
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 09:00 PM

OOPs. I meant bloody feet, not feed.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,carolz
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 09:41 PM

I also asked many people if they remembered ths game. We played it in Austin, mn in the early 50's. Have loved reading these.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: GUEST,sara
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 09:45 PM

I played this game in the '80s in Northwest Ohio. This is what we said-
I'm going up town to smoke my pipe
I won't be back til Saturday night
If you go near that witch's house
I'll spank you black and blue
til you say ouch.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 10 - 06:29 PM

In Tennessee its called Old Blue Witch
I'm going to town to smoke my pipe I won't be back til Saturday Night, and if I find out that old blue witch has been here, I'll beat you black and blue with my old shoe

This was said to the "oldest child who was in charge of the other children. The witch would come steal each child til there were non left, and assign each child a color. When the parent went to the witch's house to retrieve her kids. The witch would send him on a goose chase down 3 roads, then allow her to guess the color of some children she had. If the parent guessed the color, the kid was released and the parent got to chase the kid back home.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my p
From: GUEST,judy
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 01:11 PM

Thank you so much. I grew up in Ohio in the 50's and I remembered the first two lines and nothing else. I have googled these lines many times and I was so excited to get this great response this time. I loved that game and we played it on the steps of the front porch...


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,MaryK
Date: 17 Jul 10 - 01:06 AM

Wow! I thought this was something the neighborhood kids made up. We played this in the 60's - 70's in Cleveland, Ohio. I didn't remember much of the actual game play except for the opening line, but now I remember that we did have another man who would come to the door when the father was gone and kidnap the kids one by one. It was not a spider or a witch, just a man. Beyond that I don't remember much else. I had told my husband about this many times, I never met anyone outside of my neighborhood who had even heard of it, and I honestly thought we made it up. This thread has been fun to read! Thanks!!!


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 10 - 09:29 PM

I also grew up in Saginaw MI.and remember the rhyme..... but not as a jumprope rhyme.... we would say.... I'm going downtown to fetch a wife and won't be back till broad day light, but I'll beat you black and I'll beat you blue if you don't take care of my darling sister Sue! and then someone would be Sue and some kids had to protect her while others tried to take her away..... as I remember it! So glad to see this thread.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 13 Aug 10 - 11:08 AM

My mother used to say this before she went out on Fri nights. I had thought that she made it up but then figured it came from some nursery rhyme that she'd heard growing up, She'd say,

I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe
And I won't be back 'til Saturday night
And if you let that old witch in
I'll beat you 'til your black and blue

Us three kids would laugh and she'd be out the door before we realized she'd left us with the babyysitter. :^)

Now I know it came from a children's game... Thanks


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 09:32 AM

We played "Old Mammy Witch" at school in Talbotville, Ontario (between London and St. Thomas), in the mid-to-late 1950's. I was in grades one and two when we played it...at the instigation of older girls, who always got to be the witch and mother.
I didn't really understand all of it, but it was the version that went: "I'm going to town to smoke my pipe and won't be back til Saturday (Friday?) night...and I'm leaving YOU in charge!" The rest of the game consisted of the "witch" tricking kids into going with her, then giving them a food name, as mentioned by other posters. When the last "child" was taken, the mother came back and, again as mentioned by others, had to act out street names the witch sent her on.
I've tried to describe this game to other people, and got an eye-rolling "you're crazy" kind of response...glad to know I wasn't really making this up! (The game kind of petered out when the older girls got interested in boys...then we switched to "Red Rover" and "Mother, May I?", and baseball...kids knew how to entertain themselves back then!)


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,fransmission
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 09:45 AM

In my previous post, referring to Talbotville, Ontario, I forgot to mention that it wasn't always a food name that the captured children were given. The "witch" would pick any category that suited her, e.g., colour, pie, fruit, then give each child a name from it. The returning "mother" would eventually be given the category (after the "street" segment, I thnk), and she would then guess until she got one correct. When she called out a correct name, the appropriate child would run from the witch; the mother and witch would both try to catch it. If the witch caught the child, it had to go back and be given another name. The child would be "homefree" if caught by the mother.
The game was a lot of fun, if confusing to me, because of my young age at the time. I had searched for this a couple of years ago, but no results. I'm so glad to have found this site! Thanks for all the work involved.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 07:44 PM

Wow, my brother mentioned this game we use to play yesterday. I couldn't remember exactly how we played it. I didn't expect to find anything on the internet.

From my memory, our version in southeast Georgia was - "mother" said, "I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe. I won't be back til Saturday night. If the old black spider gets you, I'll beat you black and blue with my old rubber shoe." Then "mother" would leave and the old black spider would come and get one of the children. The mother would come back and spank all of the remaining children and then repeat the rhyme. After all of the children were taken the mother would go to the spiders place and all of the children would run home. Whoever was caught before reaching home lost.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 02:27 PM

Did anybody else go "downtown to watch the fight" instead of to "smoke a pipe"?

"I'm goin' downtown to watch the fight
I won't be back 'til Saturday night.
If you let that old witch in the house,
I'll beat you black and blue
With my old rubber shoe."

I grew up in central Indiana and played this game in the 50's. Going to the fight made sense to me, because our farmer grandpa was a huge fan of early televised wrestling, and nobody we knew smoked pipes!


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Annetra Raine
Date: 01 Oct 10 - 02:57 AM

Yes Yes, I remember this game, I wasn't born until the late 70's but my uncle played it with his friends in New York, I was raised in Texas where he and my mom taught me and my cousins the game. =)


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 01:07 PM

We played this in the 60's. If I recall it went: I'm going downtown to smoke my pie and I won't be back 'til broad daylight. If you let on of my children go; I'll spank you black and blue with my old rubber shoe and here's an example. Wth apprporiate smack being given. There was a with who came and took the children one by one and the the mom had to go and get into the witch's house to rescue them. We played it often.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 09:49 PM

I played that game gazillions of time as a child in the mid-sixties at my elem. school in rural western York County SC. I am a music teacher now and taught one of my classes a play party song/game called "Draw A Bucket of Water" and encouraged them to play it on the playground. I was shocked when they said they wanted to but could not because they are not allowed to touch each other on the playground (even in a game!). It is a sad world we live in folks. Anyhow, I was telling them about games we played when I was a kid and I tried to tell them about the gamed we played that we called "Black Widow Spider". I remembered the rhyme and pretty much of the play, but had forgotten the ice cream and crooked/straight road part so I googled it and got this post...good memories! I learned it by watching and listening to older kids play it. It was pretty much a childhood tradition kind of game as I recall. Thanks for sharing!


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,sdallenhou
Date: 11 Apr 11 - 01:25 PM

In North Texas in the 1960s, it went like this:

I'm going to town to smoke my pipe,
And I won't be back 'til Saturday night.
And if the Blue Witch Gets Here,
I'll tan your hide, tan your hide, tan your hide.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,kate
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 02:52 AM

Yes! Also Michigan (Port Huron)- but in our neighborhood it went on: "...And if you dare let anyone in / I'll whack you with my rolling pin / Until you're red, white and BLUE." And yes, it is related to the Wtich in the Well. In ours, the witch turned the children into things and the mother had to turn them back by guessing what they were by the noises they made.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 11 - 04:19 PM

WELL, Welll from Detroit, MICH. MID 40'S



I have an ending that goes

    I"ll whip you black and I'll whip you blue
   and I'll whip you too, my daughter Sue


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 11 - 01:24 AM

MtheGM, thank you for mentioning this rhyme in the "Cat O'Nine Tails" thread.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,kathleen
Date: 29 May 11 - 08:57 PM

We played this game in the 60s in Garden City, MI. (suburb of Detroit) Remember the lines "I'm goin downtown to smoke my pipe, and I won't be back till Saturday night. I'll whip you black, I'll whip you blue, especially you my daughter Sue." I can't remember the rules of the game, but it ended up in a chase like tag. I remember playing on the porch, and my sister remembers playing in the basement.My mom says we use to make a LOt of noise when we played.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: dulcimer42
Date: 29 May 11 - 09:57 PM

FransDotir: Wow! I loved reading your description of the game. Brought back memories I had forgotten. I KNOW that's exactly how we played it. Amazing how such a structured roll play game spread over such a wide area. I wonder if you were in Michigan. That's where we played it.   That part about playing the hands like a piano, I had totally forgotten that part.   When you're nearing age 70, reminiscing is so special.   I would think kids today would have a hard time relating to and playing this game, but we spent a lot of time with it back in the 40s or 50s.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,ebardeen
Date: 05 Jun 11 - 11:29 AM

In the finger lakes of New York state (Geneva), here is how we played the game: All the kids sat on our on front porch, and one person "the dad" stood at the foot of the porch and said: "I'm going to town to smoke my pipe and I won't be pack til saturday niht. Poof, Poof."    Then "he" would go the a maple tree (notthe biggest tree, and "pretend" call the kids: "I need some old rags." Kid: I used them all on my shows last night." Dad: "Well, I'll be home." The dad comes back to the kids on the porch and looks at their hands and says "dirty, dirty, dirty, go down to the well and wash". The kids run to a tree on the other side of the yard where they get cake or pie names (I don't remember if there if they pick them or there is someone there.) When ?the dad? the witch? guesses the cake or pie name, they run back to the porch and try not to get caught. We played this game endlessly. I always wondered where it came from. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 12:07 AM

I played it in Pittsburgh PA. but we had a red white and blue rubber shoe . Wasn'tthere also a wolf?


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,alipatch
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 11:49 AM

!
We also played this game. We used the same format as guest FransDotir, with one addition. When the mother came home and saw Sue was gone she asked the remaining kids:
Where's Sue?
Kids answer: Upstairs.
How'd she get there?
Table and chairs.
What if she fell?
I don't care!
And then the mother would pretend to
'beat them black and blue'


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,alipatch
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 11:53 AM

We played Mother-Witch all summer during the 40s in Berkley, Michigan


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jan 12 - 09:41 PM

We also played this game in Tampa Florida in the sixties! Sounds kinda dumb now, but we played it often.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 12:50 PM

Sharon Sinclair.played this game in the 40's growing up as Sharon Fuller in Manlius, NY and it has been swirling in my head for years. Couldn't remember enough of it when my kids were little to teach it to them. Thank you for being able to find it in the internet.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Warren Michigan
Date: 05 Mar 12 - 09:22 PM

So fun, we played this game when I was a kid and we had so much fun... Some of the rules sound so familiar. Our version was; I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe I won't be back till Saturday night, I'll beat you black, I'll beat you blue, especially you my daughter Sue.

We played it on the front porch as well and I remember the witch asking Sue to burrow different food products and when sue would leave the witch would take a child, until all were gone including Sue. Mother would come home and I remember a child pretending to be a piano, and a table and chair... all this acting out... Well anyway this was a riot to read and reminisce. Like all of you I thought it was something we made up and it's delightful to see others played as well.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,guest from iowa
Date: 10 May 12 - 03:10 PM

we played this in iowa in the late 60s early 70s! think we called it red devil though???


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Maralyn Dossey jabour
Date: 14 May 12 - 08:33 PM

Our version which I learned in Biggsville, Illinois, was so much fun, I tought to all the kids I baby-sat for when we moved to nearby Monmouth with the result that I never had just my charges to care for, but all the kids on the block.
Mom was the pipe smoker, the witch was the conniving kid stealer, lots of fun squealing and trying to escape mom's spanking every Saturday night, and a guessing game after each spanking when the witch returned with the child. The basic rhyme:

IOur version which I learned in western Illinois, was so much fun, I taught it to all the kids I baby-sat for with the result that I never had just my charges to care for, but all the kids on the block.
Mom was the pipe smoker, the witch was the conniving kid stealer, lots of fun squealing and trying to escape mom's spanking every Saturday night, and a guessing game after each spanking when the witch returned with the child. The basic rhyme:

I'm a-goin downtown to smoke my pipe
And I won't be back til Saturday night.
By the hair on my chiny-chin-chin,
If you dare let that old witch in,u
I'll spank you with my rubber shoe
Until your hide is black and blue.

When the witch comes, she's disguised as "a poor widow" with nothing to feed her starving children.  She appeals to the older (charitably sympathetic)  child to fetch a jar of fruit from the cellar against the admonitions of the youngest (fearfully suspicious) child who insists this violates their Mother's instructions. Witch steals one kid, oldest child returns from cellar to angry and frantic chiding from the remaining siblings. Mom comes home, spanks everyone,

Witch returns with (imaginary) paper bag containing the kidnapped child now  transformed to a kind of fruit known only to the two of them. Informs Mom she can have kid back only if Mom can guess what kind of fruit the kid is now. A successful guess transforms the kid back to him:herself and Witch leaves, disgruntled  Otherwise Witch takes the fruit (kid) back to her house. Kids argue about why they guessed wrong or who can take credit for a correct guess creating such a rumpus that of course Mom recites the poem again and heads off for a good, long smoke.  kids fall for the Witch's "widow" scam again, etc, with Witch bringing all the stolen kids back for Mom to potentially redeem following each round of spankings. Kids can end up passing back and forth between the two antagonists with no end tho the Witch declares herself winner if she succeeds in getting all the kids.

I wonder what it is about old women with too many  children...is there a connection between this and the woman who lived in a shoe?  
Maralyn Dossey


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 23 May 12 - 03:39 PM

Fascinating how these things spread around the country. We played a variation of this in Hoquiam, a small town in Washington State in the middle 50s. I could only remember the "going downtown to smoke my pipe" refrain and something about not letting the old Witch Hazel in. We also had something about children being turned in to pies.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:10 PM

Yes. We also called this Sunday-Monday-Tuesday. Needed lots of kids, named after days of the week, and a witch and a mother. Mother would announce "I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe, and I won't be back til [Tuesday, etc.] night. You take care of the door. The [ice/milk/coal, etc.] man is coming, and the money's upstairs. Don't let the old witch in." Mother goes away, one chld is the door, witch comes and knocks on child's back and claims to be the [ice] man. Child runs to get the money, and the ice man takes Tuesday (etc.) Mother comes back and discovers child is missing and cries, "Where's Tuesday?"

When all the children have been kidnapped the mother goes in search of them, into the woods to the witch's house. Witch serves tea and cookies. Mother notices a beautiful organ on the opposite wall, comments on it and asks to play it. The keys of the organ are the children's hands, and as mother presses the keys, the children say, "Ma-ma..ma-ma..." Mother chases the witch and the children are rescued.

I've never known anyone who could tell me where this is from! Can you? My aunt, age 81, played it as a child. We have English ancestry. Could it be from England?


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 12:47 PM

We played this in Herkimer NY on steuben street in the early 1950's. it was always a dad who "went downtown to smoke his pipe"..then the section with the witch, although I can't remember the exact words..and then "pies".   Often we just played "pies" since the little kids got bored or couldn't remember the whole long script. For pies we simply turned the scene into a store keeper who you had to pay with a slap on the hand the then chase the pie if the customer named the right pie, the kid popped up and ran to the streetlight and then back hoping to not get tagged. Sometimes we varied it with an ice cream store or colors.

Carolyn Egbert


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,sue
Date: 02 Sep 12 - 12:49 AM

I have such fond memories of pllaying this game with all ot our cousins in the 50 s in Antwerp in northern new York state. Our rhyme was "I'm going Down town. To smoke my pipe and I won't be back till broad day light, don't let the old witch in.
When the mother finally we t to get her children back she would be send down different streets, such as prickly street or slipery road or muddy lane. This was done with lots of acting. Then the mother would shout out Names of pies. It would end with all the children home. In our case home was a big alder tree in our grandparents front yard.

I think this game is English In origin. It is very similar to the book "heggity peggity " by Donald and Audrey Wood.
I am so glad to have found this site. Thanks


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 12 - 03:33 PM

I grew up in the 50's in Detroit and we played this game as I' going downtown to smoke my pipe and I won't be back til Saturday night,,,,I'll whip you black, I'll whip you blue, especially you my daughter Sue (person chosen)


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,guest, colette
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 01:34 PM

I grew up in South Bend, Indiana in the 1950's and we played this game. We would say:

I'm going to town to smoke my pipe
I won't be back 'til Saturday night
and if anyone lets the old witch in
I'll spank you with my rubber heel.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,minnesotakid
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 02:41 PM

When I was a child in Parkers Prairie MN in the late 30's and 40th we played this game called don 't let the old witch get you. There was the mother, witch and any number of children. The mother was the best role to play. She had more to say and do. She would say to the children. I'm going uptown to smoke my pipe and won't be til' Saturday night and don't let the old witch get you. The old with would come and say to the first child. Go to the cellar and get me a jar of peas. The child would go to the cellar get the peas..While she was gone the witch would steal a child.
The mother would come back and ask where is so and so and the children would say the old witch got her. This would go on until all the children were taken.
The mother would go to the witches house, recite a poem, which can't remember. I know it would involve bloody feet and a glass slipper.
Does anyone know the ending. I loved this game. I've asked many people through the years if they played it. No one had ever heard of it.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,999
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 03:08 PM

Heckedy Peg--it's worth a google.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 13 - 10:56 AM

I also played this game in Minneapolis, Mn. I only remember the first part, but it was back in the 50's.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 01:18 PM

I grew up in Saginaw MI and it was so exciting to see the version from Saginaw Mi. as that is exactly how I learned it in the 50's and none of my childhood friends remembered it and I was wondering if I imagined it....
"I'm going downtown to fetch a wife and I won't be back till broad day light but I'll beat you black and I'll beat you blue, if you don't take care of my darling sister Sue!"I


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 01:29 PM

"Fetch a wife" a striking variant on "smoke my pipe"; but interesting to observe that the SM element remains!

~M~


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,GrannyFranny
Date: 19 Jul 14 - 11:14 PM

We played this game at school in Talbotville, Ontario, Canada. (Talbotville is between London and St. Thomas.) This would have been in the mid-50's. Our version started with the "mother" saying:
I'm going to town to smoke my pipe
And I won't be back 'til Saturday night,
And I'm leaving YOU in charge.
The rest of the game was pretty much as others have described, with the witch capturing children, the street names being acted out, the children being given names from a specific category (e.g., pies, trees, etc.). I was so young when I first played this (6 years old), that I really didn't understand what was going on. For some reason (maybe because the older girls moved on to high school?), the game faded out.
By the way, our version was called "Old Mammy Witch".


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Crazcanine
Date: 02 Aug 15 - 01:51 PM

I grew up in Eastern KY. We were in the historic Hatfield and McCoy feud area. It was in the late 70's early 80's we played this game with neighbor kids on the steps of an old church. There was an old outhouse on the property, made a perfect "well" for our witch in game!
I don't remember the "I'm going downtown" part, we played if I remember right that Mom was going to the store and we were not to get dirty.
When she returned she calls us for dinner, the kids would line up and she wanted to check our hands, she would come by and say dirty, dirty as she went down the line.
Then she would say to go to the well and wash your hands.......the person playing witch would appear and kids would scream and run back to the Mom.
She didn't believe their cries of "Witch in the well" and sends them back threatening to whip them.
Kids go again to "well" , witch appears, kids run screaming back.
Mom gets aggravated and leads them back to well, the witch jumps out chasing them all and whoever she catches is the witch next.
That is what I remember........we too thought it was a game passed to us from older siblings and that someone local had made it up.


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Subject: RE: kids' game: I'm goin' down town to smoke my pipe
From: GUEST,Just me a good ole boy from Illinois 70s ver
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 03:42 AM

We played the game my 2 brothers and 3 sisters. We would do one of several picking games like, bubblegum bubblegum in a dish or engine engine number nine to determine the mother and witch. The others were children. The children would choose a name from a predetermined catagory like news anchors, actors, singers which ever category we chose but all the names had to be in the same catagory. The mom would leave and say, "I'm going to town to smoke my pipe, I won't be back til Saturday night. If the old witch comes don't let her in or I'll beat you black and blue with my ole rubber shoe! The mom would leave, and the children would hide. The witch would come and call out names based on the chosen category. When a correct name was called out the child had to run for a predetermined base without the witch tagging them. If the witch tagged them they were sent to the witches house (another predetermined area), and the mom would come and take the child by the hand,they would run hand in hand trying to get to the base with out getting tagged by the witch. If tagged the child had to go back to the witches house and start over with the mom. All the while the witch is still calling out names of the others, and trying to catch them. If all gets to the base the witch stays the same person. The one who doesn't make it back to base after getting caught becomes the next witch, and the witch becomes the mom.


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